Archive for the ‘Zimbabwe’ Category

Something remarkable happened yesterday. The power of the synergy between print and web publishing was revealed as bloggers climbed into (or defended with varying degrees of conviction) David Bullard’s somewhat over-the-top column on blogging in the Sunday Times. (See the Amatomu stats here)

What yesterday showed was that the two mediums are greater than the sum of their parts, the philosophy which underpins (SHAMELESS PUNT WARNING) the launch of The Times in June as a fully digitally integrated national newspaper. Even though the Bullard column carried no “push” signals, it did push bloggers to write in their droves. The bloggers then pushed traffic through to the online version of the column by linking and (perhaps against their better judgement) adding to the hype. That the topic of discussion which drove this blogging frenzy was blogging and not crime, Zimbabwe or sex is in itself remarkable, showing that there is high degree of self-awareness/self-criticism in the blogging community. Bloggers are thinking about their medium which bodes well. Self-criticism is the key that unlocks the growth and development of a relatively new medium.

The “old” media still has the punching power (and the readership, in the case of the Sunday Times) to drive an agenda in a way in which web plays can’t. Will this all change as broadband rolls out? Maybe, maybe not. What is clear is that a strategic partnership between print and online can deliver a very powerful punch.

At the end of the day, Matthew Buckland got it just about right with this remark:

Obviously bloggers have to respond. But what some fail to see (or grasp) is that there is a strong baiting element to Bullard’s excellent columns. In fact every week there is a strong sarcastic and satirical edge to his writing. Just about the silliest thing a blogger can do is reply with righteous indignation and call for his head. And Bullard does rightfully point out some weaknesses in blogging, albeit in a sarcastic tone. (And who’s saying ‘blogging’ is ‘journalism’? Some blogs are journalism, some aren’t, some don’t care.)     [My bold]


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David Bullard’s Sunday Times column was not kind to bloggers. If you missed it, here is a line:

Many bloggers prefer to remain anonymous and with good reason. The content of their sites is so moronic that even their best friends would disown them if they knew they were the authors. As with most things in life, something that costs nothing is usually worth nothing and that puzzles me. Are there really 70 million bloggers out there hoping that their writing talents will be recognised, or is this just another example of modern narcissism?

The response from bloggers has been outrage. Vincent Maher had this to say:

I think we need to demand an apology or a justifcation for what Bullard has said in his column, and what the Sunday Times has endorsed by publishing it – that we are the type of people who will gun down our fellows at university.

My feeling? I read Bullard’s column with both a chuckle and a gulp. A chuckle because Bullard is wicked. Which is why so many people laugh with him when he pillories the idiots. A gulp because its not so nice when you are lumped with his idiots. I have to disagree with his harsh conclusion that all bloggers are wannabe columnnists or pimply teenagers or psycho killers.

The irony for me is that Bullard is actually being true to the spirit of blogging, he’s just doing it in print. Think about it: Emotionally charged, unmediated, quickly researched, instinctive, raw and controversial. Now he was just a little more technologically literate, we could have a great blog on our hands …

The question I have is why do bloggers feel so threatened by an old media column? And why does an old media columnist feel so threatened by blogging? The answer is that we are living in a time of rapid change and the old is rubbing up rather uncomfortably against the new.

As for Vincent’s demand for an apology because the Sunday Times “endorses” what Bullard says by publishing it. I’m sure he’ll think about it and realise that the publication of opinion, varied, controversial and perhaps even insensitive is better than starting to sift through writing for anything that offends anyone. Like they do in Zimbabwe.

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